“Best damn marketing tool and it’s free”

Business books

I talk with clients about their book marketing strategy and there’s always the question of blogs. Should you blog, should you not blog? Some people think blogs are passé. Some think they’re not worth the effort you have to put into them. Inasmuch as I’m a great believer in blogs, I can’t tell a person how to use their time. Only they can judge that. Only they know what is most important to them. The fact is, it takes time to write a good blog post, but I think it’s time well spent.

So rather than talking about blogs in an abstract sense, I started looking around at some well-known business-book authors to see what they’re up to. Three that come to mind for me are Tom Peters (who I worked with for a number of years), Seth Godin, and Dan Pink. (Seth and Dan I know from interviews I did with them for the “Cool Friends” section of tompeters.com.)

Dan began blogging at a site called JustOneThing.blogspot.com. As the name suggests, he wrote about one thing each day. (I think you can still find those blog posts at that URL.) That began early in 2002 and ended after about a year and then he began blogging at danpink.com. Meaning he’s been blogging in one form or another for more than 10 years. Dan recently stopped blogging. (I think I read this in his newsletter.) Instead of blogging he’s posting regularly at Twitter and Facebook. And perhaps more importantly, his site, danpink.com is now a repository of resources: pdfs, videos, interviews, links to helpful articles. Dan has earned his way out of blogging, though, as I said, he’s still active in social media. He also does a monthly radio call in show, which allows anyone to ask questions directly of Dan and his guest in real time.

Seth Godin has been blogging forever and continues to blog. (It seems that Seth, too, began blogging in January of 2002. At least that’s when the archives begin at his site, sethgodin.typepad.com.) He posts every day, seven days a week. He only uses Twitter and Facebook to link to his blog. His blog is everything. No comments. He doesn’t want to be distracted by them. Neil Patel has written a blog post about the ten things you can learn from Seth about blogging. Seth posts a blog every day but that doesn’t mean he’s writing a post every day. He may write five to ten in one sitting and then queue them up for the following days. You don’t really want to find yourself in the position of having to get up in the morning and write a blog post before you do anything else. (That’s why you’ll find editorial calendar plug-ins or add-ons for some of the more popular blogging platforms.) Of course, you still have to write them.

By doing this and doing it every day and being consistent and smart and providing content that you can apply to your own life, he’s gathered hundreds of thousands of followers and with a crowd like that, it’s easy then to go on to do other projects. Which he has done. Unlike Dan Pink, who has moved away from blogging but substituted other ways of talking with his audience, Seth has stuck with the blog. In a way, he is the master.

Then there’s Tom Peters. He began blogging in 2004. Tom really embraced blogging. I remember some of those days early on when he produced half a dozen posts or more. And I’d say, “let’s save some of these for another day” and Tom would say “no” and we’d post all those and then he’d write a bunch the next day. Eventually he settled into a more or less “one a day” routine and that went on for years. I remember hearing Tom tell someone that “if you’re not blogging you’re an idiot” and that “it’s the best damn marketing tool and it’s free.”

Over time Tom began to blog less and less. But blog posts still appear now and again and whenever he speaks, his slides are posted, something we started doing at the original Tom Peters website in 1999. But an interesting thing happened with the advent of social media. Tom got turned on to Twitter and has really taken to that platform. While he shares links to information, Tom primarily converses with other people there. Most of his posts are in direct response to someone who has reached out to Tom at Twitter to ask him a question or to comment on something he has tweeted about. And people love that. Tom now spends less time writing blog posts and more time communicating directly with people.

The point here is that you’ve got three well-know business authors who’ve all used blogging as a primary means of marketing their books and their speaking. And over time, they’ve gone in different directions. But I would maintain that their blogs laid the foundation for whatever it is they’re doing now online.

So if you’re working on a business book and want to begin marketing it, and you should be doing that before you’ve published it, blogging is still the best way of putting your message out there. The problem is, is that it is the foundation. On top of your blog you have to build Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or all three or at least two. You get the picture. But your blog is still home base.

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